With a firm commitment to One Health – the idea that the health of animals and people are interconnected – Zoetis sponsored and participated in the 6th World One Health Congress. Leading academics, researchers and health companies shared timely topics relevant to human and animal health at the virtual Congress held October 30 through November 3, 2020. Spearheaded by our Commercial Alliances and Global Biologics teams, many Zoetis colleagues in VMRD and Outcomes Research, as well as from our commercial team in the UK, Ireland and Nordics, contributed their expertise to ensure Zoetis held an engaging Special Partner Session and represented animal health in thoughtful posters, abstracts and oral presentations.
No topic in the One Health space is more timely than COVID-19. Serving as a central theme throughout the Congress, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is a devastating example of an unknown pathogen emerged from a wildlife source that continues to threaten the mental and physical health as well as emotional and economic well-being of people. During Zoetis’ special partner session, John Hardham, Research Director, Global Biologics and Director, Center for Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, spoke about how animal health is contributing to coronavirus control, noting there are, and have been for many years, multiple Coronaviruses of veterinary importance.
Additionally, Mark Webster, Senior Scientist, VMRD Global Biologics Research, presented a poster on how Zoetis developed a Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR assay to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA in animals. Of note, our diagnostic test was used to identify the first true positive SARS-CoV-2 infected dog in the U.S. Learn more about how our Zoetis Reference Labs are testing animals in the U.S., as needed, for SARS-CoV-2.
In a scientific poster, Josh Lizer, Senior Scientist, VMRD Global Diagnostics, shared how Zoetis developed a lateral flow assay (LFA) to detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein in dogs and cats. The diagnostic was 100% sensitive in immunized or naturally infected dogs and 100% sensitive in immunized cats with high specificity in both species.
A second poster by Sharon Wappel, Associate Director, VMRD Global Biologics Research, illustrated how Zoetis has developed experimental vaccines for dogs, cats and minks. The dog and cat vaccines have been demonstrated to be safe and have an indication of efficacy in preliminary studies.
“Zoetis has studied SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and initiated development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics so that we are well prepared should there be a need for these solutions in animals,” said Dr. Hardham.
Use of vaccination and other biosecurity measures can be critical to help reduce the need for antibiotics, which in turn can help reduce the risk of resistance – another key topic at the Congress. Mahesh Kumar, SVP, Global Biologics Research, set the stage in Zoetis’ partner session by outlining the impact of veterinary vaccines, and a reminder that One Health is not a new concept. In fact, in 1796 Dr. Edward Jenner used cowpox to help create a vaccine against smallpox. Dr. Kumar also shared examples from the U.S. poultry industry where increased vaccination has helped reduce the need for chickens to be treated with antibiotics. In another oral presentation, Ben North, R&D Portfolio Director, PHARMAQ, highlighted how vaccination has helped reduce the need to use antibiotics in Atlantic salmon farming. Norway has been able to produce over 1.2 million tons of salmonids each year with minimal antibiotic usage, and Chilean salmon producers have reduced antibiotic usage by 40% since 2015. In contrast, Dr. North noted vaccination of warm water aquaculture species is still very limited, so collaborative efforts from fish farmers, regulators, academia and animal health companies are needed to achieve mass adoption of vaccination.
With over 200 known diseases which can be passed from animals to humans, we at Zoetis are committed to monitor and combat diseases that pose risk to animals and humans. We do this through our Center for Transboundary and Emerging Diseases (CTED), which is developing vaccines and diagnostics for high-impact emerging diseases globally. Research and development in veterinary medicine can help inform and even accelerate innovation in human medicine. Likewise, insights in human medicine can inform innovation in animal health. We call this interdependence One Health.
See the World One Health Congress program outline for a complete list of speakers and topics at Zoetis’ partner session. Congratulations to all Zoetis colleagues involved with planning and presenting a successful World One Health Congress program!